European Wheat Planting: 50,000 Monkeys Can't Be Wrong

Despite world prices having halved, EU farmers will still plant wheat like crazed demons for the 2009 harvest according to a Reuters report, predicting just a "marginal decline in area."

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation said in its Food Outlook issued on Thursday that area planted for wheat in the EU would fall by just 2 percent, despite falling prices and high costs for inputs such as fertilisers.

German wheat plantings rose by an unusually high seven percent last winter and one analyst said more farmers could actually turn to wheat as safe haven.

"Wheat has the largest range of sales options from milling, animal feed to bioethanol," he said.

In the UK, Susan Twining of crop consultants ADAS, said wheat area in Britain was likely to be only about two to three percent lower. This would of course still leave wheat plantings at a comparatively high level after area in Britain surged by 13 percent to 2.075 million hectares last year.

The UkrAgroConsult agriculture consultancy said last week that winter wheat area in Ukraine decreased to 6.067 million hectares, four percent lower than forecast.

Meanwhile, most observers expected the French soft wheat area to stay close to the record 5 million hectares of 2007/08.

The International Grains Council said in a monthly report last week that world wheat plantings for the 2009 harvest would drop by just 1.8 percent to about 221 million hectares.

What's that expression, 50,000 monkeys can't be wrong?